WDS is proud to produce two annual theatre pieces, one for middle school and one for middle and upper school. We benefit greatly from many theatre people among our parent body and faculty, who direct and produce these plays. The spring musical is open to everyone in 5th grade and up, and students also work backstage and learn lighting and set design from professionals. Tickets are sold to cover production costs but being in the play is free. A student band accompanies the spring musical, and sometimes includes teachers and other community members, all joining in the community part of our mission.
Our tiny school has enjoyed nearly a decade of consistent and consistently improving theatre productions.
The middle school play (grades 5-8) was added in 2017 to allow younger students their own showpiece and to expose them to Shakespeare in an appealing way, through adaptations that combine both modern English and the original language, while shortening the length and relating it to modern players and audiences, alike.
Included in a typical day is time for art, music, movement, role-playing and dramatic play. Children have the freedom to experiment and explore with a variety of materials and colors to create art collages, weavings, drawings, paintings or whatever artistic pursuit appeals to them on a given day.
In annual residencies with local artists, our kindergarten and 1st grade students spend several weeks learning about West African drum and dance, and rehearse and perform a curriculum-related, original class play at our weekly Friday Gathering. In 1st grade, students begin weekly study of the violin and take a media arts class.
Students continue their exploration of the arts and movement; they participate in our annual drum, dance and drama residencies, rehearsing and performing an original play during a Friday Gathering.
Each week, they spend time in the art room, continue their study of violin, and learn rhythms and songs in music class.
4th Graders expand their artistic and kinesthetic skills with a study of ceramics. General music instruction becomes the first step to participating in our beginning ensemble, as students choose an instrument to study and learn to play as a group, performing in our Winter and Spring Concerts. The Drama Residency culminates with a longer, evening performance of an original play.
Musical Theater is a proud achievement each year for both middle and upper school students.
The majority of students have a role in the production and the performances are a highlight of the year.
A rich assortment of arts classes and residencies, including music (students choose an instrument of choice to study), ceramics, studio art, drama, African drumming and dance, media arts, plus library, physical education, and weekly buddies round out the year of exploring, creating, inventing, and sharing across many domains.
In addition, 6th Graders have the coveted role of making Book Trailers for the annual Book Fair, continue their life as musicians in our Beginning Ensemble; work in our art and ceramics studios each week; play sports in PE; participate in the African drum and dance residency; and enjoy library and weekly buddies.
For their arts, 7th & 8th Graders have the option to choose from semester-long electives, two per semester. Choices include Beginning Ensemble (our band program), vocal music, media arts, drama, ceramics, studio art, and creative writing.
Our student films are regularly accepted into festivals and screened in NYC, our student-produced literary journal The Battering Ram, received the highest award for New York State by the National Council of Teachers of English, and our Advanced Ensemble performs at local venues alongside professional musicians.
In upper school, students are able to select from a rich variety of electives in the arts, honing their skills, deepening their particular interests and talents. This is a very exciting time for our young artists.
Electives for Grades 7 – 12
For grades 7-12, WDS offers an array of electives designed to give students more time in subjects that interest them, as well as to coax them to try new things, while giving them more choice.
- Literary Journal: The Battering Ram
- The Woodstock Day School Newspaper
- Media Arts: Intro to Filmmaking, Script Writing & Directing, Short Film & Portfolio Development, Advanced Media Arts
- The Story of “American Film”
- Media Lab
- Advanced Ensemble
- Advanced Studio Art
- Mixed Media Concepts
- Ceramics I, II, III
Electives are graded classes, holding students to the same standards as in their required coursework.
A special elective at WDS is Media Arts, where students learning basic storytelling with digital media–film and audio–as well as media literacy, i.e., how to navigate the digital landscape with a critical-thinking mindset. These classes, in particular, align with the WDS mission to prepare students for the increasingly connected and high-tech world beyond school.
For a full listing of our Arts electives please see our Upper School Course Guide: 2019-2020.